Humans are pattern-recognition machines, and that’s one reason why we are so compelled by patterns in art. Patterns and repetition in photography, in particular, can be captivating because the photographer is often capturing real phenomena. But patterns in photography aren’t achieved by accident. They’re a technique that can be learned and mastered. Below, we’ll go through the different types and show some examples of patterns in photography.
Types of Patterns in Photography
Types of repetition in photography include repetition of color, shapes, opposite patterns, abstract patterns, organic patterns, and breaking the repetition. Let’s go through and explain each of these types.
Effective use of color is always important in a photograph. Beyond using color for aesthetic effects, a photographer can use it to tell a story. This is especially true when using repetition. Using clashing colors or creating a pattern of repeating colors can make for a fantastic photo.
Like color, shapes are a type of pattern that, when employed creatively, can build a fascinating mise en scène. Repetition of similar shapes or the presentation of contrasting shapes can create intrigue or convey a theme. Look for patterns in your environment to see if anything lends itself to this type of repetition.
Repetition of Opposite Patterns
Opposing patterns can mean the patterns themselves are opposite, such as black versus white or opposite-facing triangles. Or the patterns can represent opposite themes or subjects, such as fire versus water or good versus evil. Using more than one pattern at the same time can be a challenge, but the payoff is rewarding.
Repetition Using Abstract Patterns
Whereas anyone would recognize the pattern in a shot of a row of cars or cart full of oranges, an abstract pattern is something much more subtle. Abstract repetition is common in abstract photography and is about finding hidden or unusual patterns that might be invisible to others.
Everyone has a different perspective on beauty, but we can all agree that nature provides some breathtaking sights. While it is fun to photograph the chiseled man-made structures or perfectly painted colors found in urban settings, organic matter found in the park or your yard provides plenty of opportunities for repetition. Find inspiration in trees, bushes, rocks or streams.
Remember that patterns are not mutually exclusive. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of multiple types of patterns or opportunities for repetition in photography. You could also try combining it with other composition techniques such as balance, the rule of thirds, or leading lines. Have fun!